The paths to "Eureka" moments: Teaching Mathematics in Secondary Education

Posts tagged ‘Segregation’

America’s Teachers, Chapter 8

“Sorting” Students

Students can be sorted by ability in academics, preference of educational focus, geographical location, career goals, and age. Sorting of students is often used to put them in project or activity groups. This is best done when groups are equal, working cooperatively and not competitively.

Differences between Expectations

In public high schools in 2005, it was found that while 70 percent of upper and upper-middle class students were enrolled in college preparatory classes, only 25 percent of lower-working class students were taking those same classes. Conversely, there were no students of the upper and upper-middle class students enrolled in “track three” classes, yet 20 percent of lower-working class students took “track-three” classes (Newman 273).  These statistics are the reason many educators assume lower-class students should automatically place lower than upper-class students.

Tracking

As a home school student, I was not subjected to many forms of “tracking” in elementary or secondary school. I did work through several courses which were defined as “Advanced Placement (AP)” courses or “College Prep”. These courses, specifically calculus, biology, and chemistry were slightly more advanced and work intensive than the general courses in their respective subject. Through sports in the local public middle and high schools, I observed several of my peers and their involvement in “tracking” programs. One specific program I recall was called “foundations”. This was simply a euphemism for a repeated pre-algebra course in high school. Students in this class recognized their “failure” and assumed that they were not smart because of their enrollment.

Race or Ethnicity

In understanding students, ethnicity is far more significant than race. In knowing a student’s race, I simply am able to observe the color of his or her skin. However, if I am knowledgeable of the student’s ethnicity, I will understand his or her cultural background. This information is much more useful to me as a teacher. When I know that John is Hispanic American, I will better understand the traditions he and his family may participate in, as well as consider his abilities with the English language if any initial concerns arise. If I know that Cindy is Japanese American, I will better understand her social behaviors as well as her home expectations. Individually, knowing a student’s ethnicity will not answer all of my questions or concerns. Not all children from a certain ethnicity will behave in a manner considered the ethnic norm or generalization. Yet, by having a basic understanding of different ethnic cultures, I will be able to better know my students.

Segregation

The most common form of segregation that I have observed in schools has been that of De Facto. Students simply are attracted to people similar to themselves. In my years at Olympic College, the black students in my classes always sat together, even if they had never met before the first class date. A similar example is found in cultural segregation. Students who appeared to be from “the ghetto” sat next to each other, while those who came from the suburban more preppy areas also tended to group together. In both examples, students chose segregation. However, each group was represented in the larger class and interacted regularly with the other groups and benefited from cooperative learning.

Bilingual Education

Bilingual education is controversial because educators and the government are continually trying to close the achievement gap between English Language Learners (ELL’s), and those who already speak English as their first language. Basically, those with English as their first language are able to outperform ELL students to such a degree, that educators recognize that a change must be made. There are four types of bilingual education that educators have experimented with:  immersion, English as a Second Language (ESL), transitional bilingual, and bilingual/bicultural maintenance. Immersion places ELL students in the traditional classroom for the entire school day, though the teachers often speak a bit slower for better understanding. English as a Second language has ELL’s in the traditional classroom for part of the day, and then “pulls them out” to go to a special class with certified teachers in ESL to for the other part of the day. Traditional bilingual education  require bilingual teachers to work directly with ELL students to help them move along in the traditional classroom setting. The last method, bilingual/bicultural maintenance teaches all children two languages. There is still much controversy over this issue as no one method has been found to completely close the achievement gap.

Role in Gender Equity

As a teacher, it is my role to assist in closing the gender gap and maintaining gender equity in my classroom and school. This will occur through equal scoring, praising, and attention given to students. As a math teacher, I will encourage both boys and girls toward success in my classroom. It is my belief, that any student, regardless of gender, can learn the basics of algebra, trigonometry and geometry if they are willing to put forth the effort to learn. It will be my role to teach by example. I will equally respect both peers and superiors of both gender not only because it is the right philosophy to have, but because I am an example to my students through my life.

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Citation

Newman, J.W. (2006). America’s teachers: an introduction to education. White Plains, N.Y.: Allyn & Bacon.

 

Film Review: As American as Public School 1900-1950

This post reflects on the film: As American as Public School 1900-1950. Through these reflections, the following three questions will be answered:

1) What is the focus of the era?

2) What is our view of children and adolescents at that time?

3) Who are the key players in society?

What is the focus of the era?

Initial Goal: Make every working man a scholar, and every scholar a working man. Changes to: Documentation of academic progress.

  • School was the place where the American dream was nurtured
  • Among the general population, there was tremendous pressure to get an education
  • Thousands of students attended school part time for lack of space in school buildings.
  • During the depression, many children worked instead of going to school, approximately 2million.
  • As these numbers became known, progressive Americans suggested that too many children were working as opposed to going to school- they suggested creating and enforcing labor laws.
  • Schools, under progressive ideals, became a place of training rather than memorization.
  • The training in school caused students to “fall in love with America”
  • 1920’s schools grew to become more than just teachers. Secretaries, mentors, counselors, janitors, cooks, and administrators where just a few of the positions necessary to run a school. This turned the “one teacher” classroom school into a multi-level bureaucracy.
  • It was at this time that career tracking was first introduced introduced. People thought of going to school as a way of getting a job.
  • Intelligence tests sorted students into categories for tracking.
  • IQ tests were used to determine the quality of people by ethnicity, race, and class even by the military to decide who got desk jobs and who had active duty.
  • Segregated schools often placed students of diverse ethnicity into industrial schools.
  • 1940’s: Life-Adjustment curriculum sought to teach relevant lessons to daily life.

What is our view of children and adolescents at that time?

  • Older children were seen to be “good students” if they started working at 15 to support the family.
  • Tremendous pressure to get an education
  • Children learning by doing.
  • Students were seen as the future, intelligence tests sorted students into categories for career tracking.
  • Progressive schools heavily invested in the lives of students, yet tracking did not provide all students an equal opportunity of learning. Often women were taught home-making skills, while men were taught a trade. Minority students were taught simple routine tasks which prepared them for factory work.

Who are the key players in society?

Progressivism vs Traditionalist Math and Science

  • “The School and Society” –Dewey- Father of Progressive Education. Dewey believed that if schools were anchored in the lives of the child, things would be different. Schools would be hospitable toward children.
  • Gary, Indiana Schools: These were extreme progressive school. One specific school, Emerson School,  had large athletic fields, playground, zoo, and a lagoon with swans. At Emerson School, students moved from class to class each hour. Under this system, students were not stuck to a desk hour after hour as they had been in more traditional schools.  Other schools had such commodities as a Metal Forge, Auto-mechanics center; as well as places dedicated to art, nature, animal care, and recess. Under the Gary program even reached into health and hygiene. However, many immigrants were convinced through propaganda that the Gary plan prepared children for industrial work- not professional careers. As a result, schools returned to the more traditional teaching methods with an emphasis on American patriotism.
  • Theodore Roosevelt: “America has room but for one language.” With this philosophy, New York began a new radical “English Only” philosophy in its schools.
  • Sputnik spoke volumes about the Russian education. To Americans, it said that Russian education was better than that of America. After Sputnik, math and physics courses became top priorities.

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This film is part of a series of four called:

School- “The Story of American Public Education”

It was produced by PBS and narrated by Academy Award winner Meryl Streep. For more information see link: http://www.pbs.org/kcet/publicschool/